Behavior Modification: Rewarding Spontaneous Acts, Exercise 4

On a private forum I participate in, a young man is learning the basics of leadership. Here is his report of an event.

Thursday Evening


When you are about to go bed tonight, take a picture of yourself laying in your bed and send to me.
I want to imagine I am there with you


i don’t want to be disobedient but i truly hate selfies. make it up to you some other way?


( I just called her , didn’t acknowledge that she didn’t comply)

Although this is not the point of this writing, I want to point out his two errors here:

1. Not following through on the request. If she does not comply, that needs acknowledgement, and best case, another task is set to make it up to him.

2. Not responding to her words. That “feels” shady and manipulative, which, in this case it actually is. It will come back to bite him, in the future.

Friday Day


(gets home and sends me another pic of here in the mirror) which I hadn’t requested and sends the msg:

I owe you from earlier since i didn’t want to ask anyone from work to take it


(I called her)
(she immediately commented if I had gotten her pic}
( I felt that since I hadn’t asked for it that I didn’t want to reenforce that in her, I stated that she din’t owe me anything ( I did not thank her)

THIS is the main reason for this writing.

So, the story thus for, he asks her for a selfie. She makes an excuse and does not send it, but the next day, when he asks for a few pics on other things, she complies, AND sends him a selfie WITHOUT his asking when she gets home from work.

My Response To Him

Wait. You don’t want to reinforce her sending you pictures of herself?

THAT was a selfie. She took it. FOR YOU. To please you.

No, you didn’t ask her.


That’s even better!

That’s not leading, that’s trying to make you happy.

AND, it’s getting her closer to taking that bedroom pic you want at some point.

Here’s the thing about this: You don’t want to micromanage every interaction. You want her to want to please you, to look for ways to please you. If you don’t even thank her when she does, two things will happen:

1. She will learn to ALWAYS wait for instructions.
2. She will get resentful that something she did to make you happy was ignored.

Now, moving forward, one of the most important skills in behavior modification, especially over time, is the ability to critically assess daily, spontaneous actions for:

  • Things I Like
  • Things I Don’t Like

And ALWAYS ALWAYS reward ‘Things I Like.’ Period. ALWAYS.

Even better when ‘Things I Like’ are offered up spontaneously. Because that means that your subject is responsive to you, and wants to please and get rewarded (with things they like).


In the next three days, watch for ‘Things I Like,’ and reward them with acknowledgement, smiling, thanking your subject, and etc.

Make notes of all the things you have found.

If you missed something and realized it later, make a note of that as well.

Look over your list. See how many things your partner can do to make you happy?

What would life be like if these things happened daily? Or regularly?

I’d love to hear your experiences.